With the air temperature at 26 degrees and the track temperature at 50 degrees, qualifying in Baku got underway on Saturday. Charles Leclerc took pole position after a very tough qualifying.
Leclerc was the first driver on track, followed by the Aston Martins and the Alpines. The track filled up quickly. Everyone is on soft tires.
Then a broken Aston Martin rolled – it was Lance Stroll. He hadn’t gotten the car into the 90-degree right of turn 15, touched the tire piles, and broke his right front suspension. Everyone came back into the pits with no time. Except for Charles Leclerc, 1:42.532.
After almost 10 minutes, the race continued. Again, many lined up at the exit a minute before, Mick Schumacher was the first this time.
Turn 15 claimed the next victim. Antonio Giovinazzi was stuck in the wall, had understeered into the wall, and shaved off the right side of his car. He got out and the session was interrupted again. At least more drivers had crossed the line. Verstappen ahead of Perez, Sainz, Leclerc, Ocon and Vettel.
Next attempt. Again there was congestion at the pit exit. The Williams were at the front this time. 09:22 minutes started and they all drove out again. This time the top 6 were waiting, and they had already set a reasonable time.
Verstappen, Perez, Sainz, and Leclerc broke off their attempts and only put on used tires. Hamilton completed another lap, and with 1:41.545 he made it to P1. Norris secured P5. Gasly moves up to P6. Russell just saved himself to P12. With that, he pushed Latifi out. Schumacher passed Mazepin. Out: Latifi, Schumacher, Mazepin, Stroll and Giovinazzi.
Everyone was on soft tires, with only AlphaTauri, Russell and Räikkönen still waiting.
The first battle went to Perez in a thousandths thriller, 0.029 seconds faster than Leclerc. Behind them Sainz and Verstappen, then Norris, Alonso, Vettel, Ocon, Ricciardo. Hamilton and Bottas aborted their first fast laps, so we only had nine times.
Trying to set the time on the second lap seemed to work. At least for Hamilton, who got within 4 thousandths of Perez’s time. Bottas ahead on P7. Verstappen also made up ground on his second fast lap, taking the lead. Gasly drove himself into the top-10, pushing out Ocon, who had touched the wall earlier but hadn’t broken anything. Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Räikkönen also out.
And we had the next abort: Daniel Ricciardo arrived way too fast and sank the McLaren into the TecPro barrier. Abort. And with one and a half minutes to go, there was no restart. Vettel just missed Q3. Alonso was just ahead. In addition to Vettel, Ocon, Ricciardo, Raikkonen and Russel out.
The Mercedes drove two warm-up laps again. Leclerc timed it perfectly, snatched the slipstream from Hamilton, and took the intermediate fastest time! He was 0.345 seconds faster than Verstappen, with Sainz and Norris behind him.
Mercedes followed suit, assigning Bottas as slipstream helper in the first run. He does it almost perfectly, Hamilton thinks it was too close. But it’s enough for P2 behind Leclerc, and ahead of Verstappen.
While everyone else gets new tires, AlphaTauri drives the only run – and Tsunoda pulls Gasly with slipstream to P4! So Sainz on 5, Norris on 6, Perez only on 7. But all the others came out again 2 minutes before the end.
That was it! Tsunoda stuck in the tire pile in turn 3, behind him was Carlos Sainz with a broken front wing. The session was stopped with one second remaining, Leclerc is in pole position, with Hamilton in P2, Verstappen P3, Gasly P4, Sainz P5, Norris P6, Perez P7, Tsunoda P8, Alonso P9, Bottas P10.
The times after Q3:
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.345|
|7||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+0.699|